It’s rarely a good thing to see your team’s backup quarterback in the game, especially for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that doesn’t blow a lot of teams away on the scoreboard with a veteran quarterback that almost always misses at least a start or two every season.
That’s why the Steelers came to rely so heavily on experienced, veteran reserve quarterbacks, such as Tommy Maddox, Byron Leftwich, and, most notably, Charlie Batch.
The latest veteran backup quarterback to serve under Roethlisberger is Bruce Gradkowski, and I was glad to say that I could tell nothing about how he would be as a backup quarterback during the 2013 season.
That was, of course, because Roethlisberger managed to play every single snap of the season for the Steelers for the first time in his career. While he started every game in 2008, he missed significant time due to injury in a few games.
So after 19 games with the team, Gradkowski finally made his Steelers debut on Sunday night, and the best part of all was because it was due to a blowout lead, and not because the starting quarterback was out.
That simply doesn’t happen very often.
As a matter of fact, the extended lead also gave center Maurkice Pouncey a breather, as the Steelers shifted Cody Wallace over from left guard to center and inserted Chris Hubbard—making his NFL debut—into the game.
Hubbard actually did a lot more work than Gradkowski did, as the offense merely fed the ball to LeGarrette Blount to close out the game.
On four carries, the big back gained 42 yards to put himself over 100 yards for the game, his first 100-yard game as a Steeler. The only thing that was left for Gradkowski to do after the few handoffs was a pair of kneel downs to seal the victory.
It was a rare treat to witness the team debuts for Gradkowski and Hubbard in the midst of a blowout victory. The fact alone that Roethlisberger played every snap last year gives an indication as to the scarcity of its occurrence.
The irony is that, had Ramon Foster not been held out of the game, Hubbard would not have even gotten a helmet, and would have missed his opportunity to experience the first playing time of his career.
Of course, it may not be in quite as favorable circumstances the next time either of these two players see any playing time for the Steelers, but for this past game, I’ll certainly take it.